By Mike Montgomery
Only a few years ago, plenty of people were arguing that MOOCs, or massive open online courses, were going to completely disrupt colleges. Instead of having a professor lecture to a few hundred students—how inefficient and retro!—thousands of people from around the world could register for that same course, learn the material and take tests on their own time.
There’s no question that MOOCs are increasingly popular. According to one study more than 40,000 students, on average, take each class. And people are finding creative ways to use them, like a woman who is cobbling together the equivalent of an MBA from MOOCs for less than $1,000—and launching a business to help others do the same. Companies are using MOOCs to train workers, job hunters are learning marketable skills and people in remote locales are being exposed to top-notch professors.
But as often happens, the initial wave of hype was hit with a ferocious backlash. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s prediction that MOOCs will drive hundreds of universities into bankruptcy within a decade no longer seems prescient, as MOOC completion rates can be as low as 5 percent, indicating that many students who register don’t stay motivated to keep up with the material. Eighteen months ago, Sebastian Thrun, cofounder of Udacity, one of the original MOOC providers, declared, “We have a lousy product,” and pivoted the company toward paid courses in software development along with innovative Nanodegrees designed to teach a highly-focused set of skills leading to specific career opportunities.
[ Full article available at Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemontgomery/2015/06/10/how-entrepreneurs-are-rethinking-moocs/ ]